Tony's gut – gone gone Gibbs is gone – was acting up. Everyone should be physically fine, though after Friday's fiasco, he should probably just have ordered black roses to be delivered to Abby's lab on principle. Maybe she wouldn't need them? Right, DiNozzo. 'Cause that's how your luck is running these days. As he passed through security, he saw Ziva and McGee getting on the elevator. Ziva looked up, and stuck her hand in the closing doors, giving him just enough time to slide inside with the breakfast he'd bought for the team. Bribery? Yeah, but these days, Tony would take what good will he could get.
He masked his once over of his agents – my agents my team mine to protect – by giving Ziva an exaggerated leer. Judging from McGee's eye-roll, he'd been successful with one of his agents, though Ziva's soft smile suggested that she knew exactly what he was doing, and even appreciated his care. No gut needed on this elevator at least. Ducky would be pissed at Gibbs, but not any more shook-up by his longtime friends' reappearance and re-disappearance. Was that even a word? Well. He'd go check on him anyway, once the team was settled. Maybe something was up with his probie? McGee would probably deal with it, if that was the problem, but it wouldn't hurt for Tony to check up on her either. The Director? He considered it for a moment, and then mentally shook his head. She was his Director, and of course he'd do his duty, take her orders, but he didn't like the way she manipulated them – so maybe it was related to the Director, tangentially at least.
With a ding, the elevator doors opened to the bullpen. Tony shook himself, the sensation not disappearing. Something was wrong. And then he stepped into the MCRT's section. And stopped. Nonononono. No. Not like this. Gibbs was sitting at his old desk, Tony's desk now. Tony's stuff was piled on his old desk, McGee's desk now. Ziva's had been left alone, but McGee's stuff was on the Probie's desk. And the Probie was standing there, pile of files in her hands, looking as shocked and confused as Tony felt. Well, folks. Let's see if they still respect me now that Gibbs is back. Not my boss. Not anymore. Not their boss, either. Left us left us leftus.
"I need your reports from Friday," Tony said mildly. "You should all have the initial write up done, but I need the final reports by noon. Probie, just shift that to the floor for now. I'll figure out what to do with it while you write." Lee set the files down, and began to clear a space in front of her computer where she could work. Tony looked at the mess that was his bullpen – HIS bullpen, thank you very much – and wondered what exactly the protocol was in a situation like this.
McGee looked at Tony briefly, and frowned. He walked over to Gibbs, and stood there for a moment, looking down at him. "You're sitting at my boss's desk," he said. His head titled slightly to the side, a move Tony had seen a thousand times as he considered what came next. "That's rude. If you wanted to speak to him, you could have called."
Ziva joined McGee in front of Gibbs' desk. "I am grateful that you came to help me with the FBI. But you left. You are no longer our boss. To treat my boss in this manner, as though the work he has done means nothing, is disrespectful. You taught me your rules, and the one that has been most important is 'Do not screw over your partner'. What was Tony if not your partner? Is he not our partner? Did you think that we would allow you to screw him over?"
McGee spoke again, glancing back at Tony. Tony couldn't read the expression on his face as he turned back to Gibbs. "But if you are here to tell me that Tony is no longer my boss, and that I am no longer his senior field agent, then you had better use your words, rather than dumping the contents of our desks where you think they should go. Of course, if you do that, I am notifying you now that I will be requesting a transfer to a team that recognizes the worth of all of its agents. Hell," and as shocked as Tony was to hear even-keeled McGee swear, he was more shocked to note the anger flushing up McGee's neck as he spoke, "maybe I'll transfer to the FBI. At least then I'll know what I can expect."
Ziva smiled at McGee, and looked over her shoulder at Tony, who stood staring at them, mouth open. "Tony," she said, "close your mouth before you catch a fly. What we are saying, Gibbs, is that you left. Tony stayed. He has had our sixes since you left, and before. We are glad that you have come back to DC, and even to NCIS. But you are no longer our boss."
Gibbs looked stunned, almost as stunned as Tony felt. Agent Lee spoke into the silence, "And what did you expect me to do, sir? Slink back to Legal with my tail between my legs, happy to have had a chance to be a field agent? With all due respect, sir, stick it." Lee looked like she might faint, but Tony, McGee, and Ziva were all staring at her approvingly. Clearly, Tony thought she was listening to our stories – calling a gunnery sergeant sir is like calling him a jackass, and that emphasis . . . and it was McGee who told the Deputy Secretary of Defense to stick it when I was undercover with White. Good girl. We'll make a field agent out of you yet.
Gibbs looked at his former team, McGee and Ziva clearly protecting Tony from him, watching their boss's six even in the bullpen, their Probie standing up to him, and opened his mouth. Before he could speak, Ziva slipped around the side of the desk to lean menacingly over him. "You," she said clearly, "are sitting at my boss' desk, preventing him from working. Move."
"No," Gibbs growled, his confusion turning to anger. "This is my desk, and my team." He didn't look at Tony as he turned back to his papers. And Tony was twelve again, being left behind in the Maui Hilton, waiting patiently for a father who never came.
"No, Gibbs," said McGee, quietly, but with more strength than Tony had ever heard before. "We're not your team. You left us – I get that you had a lot to sort out. But you left us, left Tony. We are his team. DiNozzo's my boss, Lee's my probie. It's my job now to stay on Tony's six, to protect him when he runs into danger to keep the rest of us out of it. You taught us loyalty, and we learned. But we will not give it where trust has been broken." He took a deep breath, opened his mouth to say more, looked over his shoulder at Tony, sighed, and subsided. And Tony wasn't twelve anymore; he had a team, family, who stood with him, even protected him from wounds he refused to acknowledge.
"Go, Gibbs. Find another team. We are yours no longer. I killed my brother to save your life, and I will always owe you for saying you made that shot. But I came here to escape from a father who acknowledged me only when I was useful, a father whose approval I spent my whole life trying to gain. What is the saying? Fool me once, shame on you. I made a family here, with a father who gruffly had my six even when he did not know me, but when his crisis came, he left us. Fool me twice, shame on me. I will not be fooled a third time," Ziva spoke quietly, face blank. "How could any of us trust you to have our six in the field when you did not trust us to have yours?"
Gibbs was saved from responding when Tony's cell rang, shattering the silence that grew after Ziva's soft-spoken question. "DiNozzo!" Tony greeted, and then fell silent, listening. "Of course. We'll be right on it." He hung up, and turned to Ziva, McGee, and Lee. "That was dispatch. Gear up."
And in the hustle of movement on the way out of the bullpen, he didn't look at Gibbs once.